How did BrandsEye predict the US election results?
BrandsEye, a South African social analytics company, correctly predicted both the vote to leave the EU in June's referendum and a Trump victory in the US election, but how did it do this? We quizzed CEO JP Kloppers.
Can you tell me a bit about your background and how you came to possess your current role?
I am a leader and entrepreneur with over a decade of high-level management experience. I have spearheaded a number of successful ventures over the years, and currently head up the team at BrandsEye, where I have served as CEO since early 2013.
After completing my BSc in Engineering from the University of Cape Town, JP went on to found Eden Ventures, an independent business consulting firm for which I secured my own funding, and under which I launched a number of successful ventures.
Today, I remain at the helm of the rapidly growing BrandsEye team, combining my passion for people and technology to fuel business growth and provide unique, relevant audience insights for enterprises the world over.
What is the important of social analytics in African business?
Access to quality research data on the continent is often limited and when it is available it can be prohibitively expensive. Social media goes where clipboards can't, and offers a better, unsolicited view of local African issues. The availability of this data gives one access to millions of conversations –(based on user’s actual experiences towards a brand, product, or even a political party) all in real-time.
Due to the limited availability of data on African consumer behaviour, and the cultural complexities of entering a new market - the failure rate for companies opening a new business in Africa is often quite high.
Social media market research helps eliminate a number of these risks by providing unique insights into user behaviour while also shedding light on key cultural nuisances. These insights can be used to develop targeted marketing campaigns, while also helping shape the product development strategy for those countries.
How did BrandsEye predict the US election results?
We started collecting social media data, particularly from the Twitter network, in July 2016. While early opinions do not greatly impact on actual voting behaviour, they do help to fine tune the data collection and tagging. In particular, given the electoral college system of determining the US President, it was critical to focus on the key battleground or swing states, where the outcome of the election would be decided.
Over the next few months, a large amount of data was collected, geolocated, and analysed for sentiment. All social media matching the candidates’ names, and mention of the US election itself, was collected. Data from outside the US was excluded. In total, over 37.6 million conversations from over 4 million authors were collected for analysis. BrandsEye’s geolocation algorithms identified in which state the author was located, and finally the conversations from the key battleground states were sent to the BrandsEye Crowd – an integrated, scaled crowdsourcing platform trained to accurately and quickly understand sentiment.
What advantages do BrandsEye’s methods have over traditional polling?
As with Brexit, accurate social media analysis had once again proven to be the best way to understand the voice of the people. That voice is a human voice.
As the world becomes more connected, differences between decision makers and their stakeholders are becoming more visible and volatile than ever. Traditional methods of understanding a broad group of people are breaking down because they can neither measure the intensity nor the commitment of the emotions. Sophisticated analysis of social media, however, offers a more reliable understanding of what is happening in today’s world.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”